NBA: Rockets clamp down on Jazz while Warriors rout Pelicans to stay on course for likely West finals showdown

Houston Rockets centre Clint Capela blocks a shot by Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell during the fourth quarter in game four of the second round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs in Salt Lake City on May 6, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS/USA TODAY SPORTS

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Chris Paul and Clint Capela recorded double-doubles and the visiting Houston Rockets turned a stifling defensive performance into a 100-87 win over the Utah Jazz on Sunday (May 6) and a 3-1 lead in the NBA Western Conference semi-finals.

In the other National Basketball Association play-off game, Kevin Durant scored 38 points as the Golden State Warriors increased their series lead to 3-1 with a 118-92 victory over the home-standing New Orleans Pelicans in the Smoothie King Centre.

The Rockets can close out the best-of-seven series on Tuesday in Game 5 at Houston and the defending champions can similarly do so on the same night.

With the Rockets shooting miserably from the perimeter - Houston missed 28 of 38 three-point attempts - Paul was a terror in the mid-range, finishing with a game-high 27 points plus 12 rebounds, six assists and two steals. He committed just one turnover on his 33rd birthday.

Capela continued his series-long domination of Jazz centre Rudy Gobert, posting 12 points, 15 rebounds, six blocks and two steals. James Harden scored 24 points on 8-of-22 shooting.

The Jazz were stifled throughout offensively, shooting a series-worst 38.6 per cent, including 7 for 29 on 3-point attempts.

Donovan Mitchell paced Utah with 25 points but shot 8 of 24 from the floor. Joe Ingles added 15 points and eight boards while Gobert had 11 points and 10 boards but had a game-worst minus-27 rating.

Even though the Rockets posted a wire-to-wire win, Paul is not ready to declare victory in the series.

"It's the process, man," he said post game on TNT. "I've been here before, 3-1. (Stuff) went bad real quick. It is what it is. We're just enjoying the process. Get home, see my family. A real birthday gift. I'll take it."

The 3-1 lead he was referring to was in the 2015 Western Conference semi-finals, when Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers fell to Harden and the Rockets after losing Games Five, Six and Seven.

Jazz forward Jae Crowder said: "Today was tough, just to get off and generate a lot of offence to go our way. We went on runs the few times we did, but we couldn't sustain it."

For Golden State, Stephen Curry added 23 points, Klay Thompson scored 13 and Quinn Cook came off the bench to score 12 . Durant hit 15 of 27 shots from the floor.

"I'm at my best when I'm free and having fun and forceful, I think that was the thing, to just try and play with force," he said.

"It don't matter if I miss shots or not. Just keep shooting. Keep being aggressive."

Anthony Davis had 26 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Pelicans, who were looking to even the series after a 119-100 victory last Friday.

E'Twaun Moore scored 20 and Jrue Holiday had 19. Golden State shot 48.4 per cent from the floor, including 33 per cent on three-pointers, and New Orleans shot 36.4 per cent, including just 15 per cent on three-pointers.

The closest the Pelicans could get was 11 points before the Warriors built the lead to 23 and took a 94-73 advantage after three quarters.

"I thought they were really good defensively," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said.

"I thought KD (Durant) was really locked in defensively. They can run you off the three-point line because they're so long that they can give you a step, but they can also challenge shots. I thought they did a real good job with that. Then I thought we pressed a bit when we got behind."

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "KD and Steph were more strategic."

"They already know: Stars have to be stars in the play-offs. Steph and KD don't need to be told that, but my job as a coach is to try to help them strategically.

"So I talked to both of them about how I thought they could attack and create better shots, and we just did a much better job executing offensively tonight as a group."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.